Funeral at the Movies album cover
Funeral at the Movies

Shudder to Think

Dischord Records

Shudder to Think always seemed like something of an anomaly on the Dischord roster, but to be fair, a band this unabashedly eccentric was never really destined to fit in anywhere. What’s so impressive is how, even several years before they would sign to Epic and release what was arguably their definitive album, the 1994 glam-prog masterpiece Pony Express Record, they already sounded fully evolved. They were a less jagged and forbidding band in 1991, when they issued this, their second Dischord LP and third overall. Only two of the four members from the Funeral at the Movies lineup — vocalist-guitarist Craig Wedren and bassist Stuart Hill — would carry over into the major-label era. In this earlier period, they sounded something like the Dischord answer to R.E.M., with Wedren’s sensuous croon dancing over the refined college-rock–meets–post-hardcore churn he created with Hill, fellow guitarist Chris Matthews, and drummer Mike Russell. The singer climbs from a yearning midrange to a breathy falsetto on enveloping opener “Chocolate” and unleashes his formidable belt during the climax of “Lies About the Sky.” Taking in the heart-on-sleeve jangle of “Day Ditty” or the masterful pacing and progression of sterling hooks of “Red House” — which the band would remake for its second and final Epic LP, 1997’s 50,000 B.C. — it’s not hard to hear why a savvy A&R rep would have taken an interest in the band. A quirky cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic,” included on the original version of the album but cut from the reissue, further emphasizes the band as a free-spirited, impossible-to-pigeonhole outlier.

Hank Shteamer

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